Getting the Most Bang from Your Volunteer Hour: Easy Assessments in the Dark Skies, Bright Kids Program
Dark Skies, Bright Kids! (DSBK) is an outreach organization that seeks to enhance elementary-level science literacy and encourage inquiry through fun, hands-on activities. DSBK was formed by, and is operated through, volunteer efforts from professional scientists at all career stages, e.g., from first-year undergraduate students to tenured professors. Although DSBK has amassed over 14,000 contact hours since 2009, there has been no formal evaluation of the programs impacts. Over the past year, DSBK introduced a large-scale, student-led internal assessments program with the systematic evaluation of student workbooks, volunteer surveys, and observations. While the data indicated broad-scale success for the program for both of its goals, it also revealed the
organizational and educational practices that not only maximized student achievement, but also created the largest overall volunteer satisfaction with their time commitment. Here we describe DSBK in detail, summarize the student-led implementation of the assessments
program, discuss how the results of the assessments have positively impacted our operations, and generalize these results for other scientist-led outreach efforts.